Resilience

Three weeks ago, on this day, our worst nightmare came true. Agam met with an accident while playing bubble soccer at Garfield Park, at his team offsite. His teammates called my cell phone and I did not pick up since I was not at my desk at the time. I will never forget the leisurely walk to my desk, and the act of picking up my phone and reading the words, “Hi Emergency. I had a leg injury.” In my mind I told myself, “Oh poor guy, let me take him home and he will be fine.” Little did I know that I will be actually taking him to the ER, and that he will not come home for the next three nights.
I read the message and then listened to the voicemails. I had still not panicked. I called back at the number that had left the voicemail and I was asked to rush to the site of the accident. Bless the day I decided to go work for Google for I was at the field in six minutes, looking at Agam, who was in tremendous pain, yet smiling, and even sharing a faint giggle with the Paramedics. One of his teammates was holding his left leg. His shoe and jeans had been slit open, to access the wound. He was sweating profusely, and he was quivering in speech.
I am not a very helpful person when it comes to dealing with such a situation. Simply because I have never dealt with it before. My parents were overly cautious and except for one injury where my thumb went purple, I have never experienced an injury of this nature. I have been on the receiving end of another such phone call when Agam had injured himself in Goa. And another one when he drank diesel thinking it was Fanta, when he was in IIT. In both those situations, Agam was with his friends, and I was the FYI. In this case, I was the primary contact and not an FYI. I was being trusted with taking action.
The paramedics told me that they are taking him to the ER. They will not turn the siren on, and that I will reach before them and hence I should not rush, and hence I should drive carefully. I walked with the guys lifting the gurney and assembled my thoughts. I needed some answers. I just did not know what were the right questions to ask. I broke my silence when the paramedics were closing the door. I asked, “It is broken. Right?” The paramedic said, “Yes. He will need surgery.”
I did not listen to their instructions and rushed to El Camino Hospital ER. On the way, I called Nitin. And asked him to see me at the ER directly. I was still not in panic. I reached the ER and waited for the van to arrive. It took them a long time. Nitin came before the van did and I broke down. I don’t have a brother, so I don’t know how it feels to hug a brother when you need him. I know now. Because I hugged a brother that day, who helped me keep myself sane for the next many days.
The van arrived, and we were let into the ER. Then the wait started. Agam’s team arrived, and we all shared light jokes while I watched the clock tick. It was soon going to be time to pick up Tara. I had not picked up Tara since last three weeks. Work had been very busy for me in Q3 and Agam was doing the pick ups every day. Tara was not expecting Mommy. I also did not have the car seat. We somehow managed to get that from Agam’s car that was parked at his office.
It was 5:30 by now, and although we knew something was broken, we did not know how many were broken. We did not know if the surgery was needed ASAP or in a few days. If you know me, I need my questions answered then and there. It was not going to be the case today. I had to let go. I had to let go of my persistence. It was time to switch modes and become the strong Mommy who was to pick up her toddler and tell her a convincing story about Daddy not coming home tonight. I knew he was not coming home for a few nights.
I left Agam in Nitin’s hands. Knowing that Tara needed me more than Agam did. I don’t know where I got that wisdom from. This is Agam we are talking about. He was in pain, and I left him at the hospital to go get my baby home. And so I did. I let the teachers know what had happened, and I picked up my lil Tara and drove her home. We got out of the car and rushed to the park outside. There was nothing waiting for us at home. While we were at the swings I let Agam’s brother know what had happened. Tara and I walked back home, and I told her that Daddy was at work and was going to be late. She bought it. We had dinner alone, for the very first time. We then got her ready for bed, and followed all the rituals just as Daddy did. By 8:00pm she was asleep.
In the meanwhile Nitin and Agam spent the time chatting away, while Agam was put on IV pain meds. It was by 10:00pm that the doctors decided to do the surgery the next day. I wanted to rush to the hospital. But I could not. I had a little baby sleeping at home. And once again, I put her first, and told Agam to be strong. I told Nitin to go home, and asked Agam to sleep. There was nothing to be done that night. It was the right thing to do. But it was not what my heart was feeling. I let my mind win. I have let it win before. It helps in such situations. I also asked my brother-in-law to come down for the weekend from San Diego. I was still shy of asking people for help. It does not come easily to most of us. But I did. I did it because I knew that Tara needed me more, and somebody had to be by Agam’s side, with the weekend approaching.
None of us slept that night. The next morning Tara and I got ready and I packed her lunch maintaining the business as usual routine, dropped her at the daycare and rushed to the hospital. Aseem and Sukanya arrived and we all wished Agam good luck and sent him off to the OT for surgery. It was reassuring to meet the surgeon before the surgery. I needed to see who was going to fix my Agam. When the doctor came out after three hours he summarized his experience in a few words. “We did a lot of surgery today. But it’s looking good now.” I needed him to say those last three words. They were enough for me to leave Agam in Aseem’s safe and caring hands, and rush to the daycare to pick up Tara. I told her Daddy was not coming home tonight either, and she did well. We finished dinner and our rituals and she was off to bed by 8:00pm.
I rushed back to the hospital to see my injured soldier and took some Ras Malai for him. As I saw him eat it, I knew he was going to be fine. And I also knew there was a long journey ahead for the two of us.
The next few days are a haze. By Sunday Agam was discharged. We brought him home, and Aseem-Sukanya left for San Diego that afternoon. It was Tara, Agam and I for a few days, and then Papa arrived.
In the haze of that weekend, I was crushed to see my lil Tara get worried every time she saw me pacing up and down, back and forth from the hospital. I knew what could fix that. It was Dadu. And Dadu left everything behind, and rushed to be with us. By now, I had become better at asking for help.
In the next few days we figured out the office leave situation for Agam and me. Thanks to PFL, I could take this time off and work towards Agam’s recovery. We are fortunate to work for an employer that understands the plight of nuclear families.
The worst is hopefully behind us.
We have experienced so much love and affection in the last three weeks that I am overwhelmed. From Tara’s teachers offering to babysit her, to our friends bringing groceries and food over, to special bone soup deliveries by the Jindal family, and setting up a bed and attending environment for Agam downstairs, to celebrating choti diwali with Musa and Masi with mithai and sparkles, and several messages, emails, phone calls and offers to help with cooking, errands and Tara and the beautiful flowers from my team and a thoughtful Munchery group gift. I just don’t know where to begin thanking our friends, family and teams. So much love lives in the hearts of the people who surround us. I am thankful to all of you. For your wishes, prayers, and help. I don’t know how to make up to you for all that you have given us in the last few weeks. But please know that we will be there for you when you need us. In whatever way we can.
When my cleaning lady found out about Agam’s injury, and that I had to use some other help during this time since she has been busy with prior commitments, she broke down. I received several encouraging messages from her, reminding me that women are very powerful. That a woman can do a thousand tasks, and that too with a smile. And soon she called me to say that she wants to come back and work for us, since she wants to help our family through this time. I was left speechless. I am not sure what we have done to deserve so much love and loyalty from her.
I know we are all shaken by the recent election mandate. And that’s why I wanted to share this with you today. To remind you that human beings are very resilient. We can overcome any hurdle. And we do it by sticking together. With love and persistence we can fight all odds.
Agam is doing better now. Tara is enjoying all the attention from her Dadu. And I am happy to see my lil familia happy. Soon life will go back to normal. But in our hearts, we will always cherish the love showered upon us by all of you.
Thank You and a Happy Thanksgiving

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